Using leading lines in your photography can help create some dramatic and iconic imagery. Once you learn how to create these striking images, they can elevate your portfolio to new levels.
Leading lines are lines in an image that lead your eye to a certain point of interest or area of the photo.
You can find leading lines everywhere, including roads, railway tracks, bridges, lighting, shadows, lines of trees, paths, corridors, steps, and patterns on the ground.
Once you realize what they are and start looking for them, you will see leading lines in nature, urban scenes, and during everyday life. Leading lines are often straight but can also be curvy. An example of curvy leading lines could be a coastline or small bay or on a winding road. Straight leading lines tend to be dramatic, striking and hard, while curvy leading lines are more gentle and soft. Either straight or curvy lines can be used to create distinct photos that wouldn’t be given a second glance without them.
Putting your main subject at the end of leading lines makes for a powerful image. Let’s say you framed a couple walking down a long path. Naturally, the viewer’s eye will follow the road, then focus on the people. Experiment with different viewpoints by getting low to the ground or taking a shot from above normal eye level.
There are five main types of leading lines used in photography:
- Vertical lines portray power, size, dominance and strength
- Horizontal lines portray peace, distance, scale, and stability
- Diagonal lines which can demonstrate movement and motion, and are often seen in urban scenes
- Curved lines which are often seen in nature, such as rivers, coastlines and trees
- Converging lines which often lead towards the horizon
When it comes to searching for leading lines, you can discover them all around you. Many photographers like to look for natural leading lines and man-made leading lines. In the city, it’s easy to find man-made leading lines as almost everything has been constructed or made by humans. In rural areas, you can find natural leading lines easily in nature.